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The Barbeque by DM Thomas

July 27, 2014

D. M. Thomas, author of The White Hotel, the best-selling erotic novel about Freudian psychoanalysis and the holocaust, has had a complicated love life.

Soon after marrying his first wife Maureen he got a job at a teacher training college and started seducing his students. One of them, having became a teacher herself, wanted a child. Denise would have lost her job if she’d become a single parent, so Thomas divorced Maureen and married her. He claimed it was a temporary marriage of convenience, and for a period divided his time between the two women.  Eventually Maureen remarried and Thomas went through with his plan, and divorced Denise, but he never quite ended the relationship.

After the publication of The White Hotel in 1981, Thomas was rich and famous. He ran erotic writing courses, and had more affairs. Eventually Denise got cancer and when they looked into what provision they had made for their son they discovered the divorce papers had never been properly filed. They were still married, and remained so, till Denise died in 1998. The following year he married the poetry therapist Victoria Field, and in 2005 moved on to wife number four, Angela Embree.

Does knowing all that help us understand this poem? I’ve no idea.

But the final three lines are wonderful, whatever.

The Barbeque

My soon-to-be fourth wife
is preparing for our first barbecue,
while my third wife
is taking out and packing books
she’d interwoven with mine
in alphabetical order.

Why is there always so much confusion?
My fourth wife is saying she brought twelve steak knives
from Canada, but now there are only nine.
I was hoping a certain poetry book
was mine, not my third wife’s. I think
the barbecue tongs we will be using
are really hers.

I wish my third wife could stay for the barbecue
but my fourth wife would object,
and maybe my third wife would too.
I wish my first wife’s second husband
would let her come to the barbecue,
and bring himself. My fourth wife
would be fine with that. Why are people
so unreasonable? I wish my second wife
wasn’t dead, but could come too.
But then she wouldn’t be happy with my third wife,
and my first wife not happy with my second.
I know my first wife would like my fourth wife.
Many hands make light work,
and I’m hopeless at this kind of thing –
getting the charcoal to light and
cooking chops, sausages and stuff.

by DM Thomas. From Flight & Smoke

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I Look Into My Glass

July 24, 2014

By Thomas Hardy

Published in Wessex Poems and Other Verses in 1898, this was probably written when Hardy was in his mid 50′s. Tess of the d’Urbervilles was selling like hot cakes, he was daringly writing about sex in Jude the Obscure, and flirting with society ladies. But he was feeling his years.

Fifteen or so years later the widowed Hardy would marry his secretary Florence Dugdale, 39 years his junior. He was still a player.

I look into my glass,
And view my wasting skin,
And say, “Would God it came to pass
My heart had shrunk as thin!”

For then, I, undistrest
By hearts grown cold to me,
Could lonely wait my endless rest
With equanimity.

But Time, to make me grieve,
Part steals, lets part abide;
And shakes this fragile frame at eve
With throbbings of noontide.

River Medway

July 22, 2014

Leigh barrier to Allington lock

Twenty miles gentle paddling spiced up by Environment Agency canoe shoots. The railway follows the valley most of the way so getting back to the top is easy, and there’s excellent wild camping at Oakweir lock, Stoneham lock and Barming bridge. I dunked my camera so the pictures below are either cribbed from the web (forgive me), or credit Alan or Pete.

0 miles – Leigh flood barrier. Built in 1982 to protect Tonbridge, it wasn’t adequate in 2013, and may need to be raised soon.

leigh barrier    leighbarrier3

It is on the new cut, now the main channel. No easy access.  Better to launch in Tonbridge and paddle up to the barrier.

0.5 mile – old stream joins right.

1 mile – Lucifer footbridge. Barden Park right.

lucifer footbridge

1.2 miles – railway bridge.

railway above tonbridge

River divides round Tonbridge sports-ground.

Left channel footbridge 1 mile.footbridge l channel tonbridge sportsground

 

Slipway left 1.5 miles.

Excellent launch spot with car parking.    tonbridge slipway2

Footbridge

footbridge after medway slipway medway tonbridge

Alternative right channel. Allotments rightallotments

 

allotments

Boatyard right.1.4 miles – footbridge.

footbridge over right stream

Botany stream leaves right over weir.

botany stream2

1.5 miles New Wharfe Road bridge

medway l channel bridge

 

1.6 miles – channels merge

1.8 miles – Town Bridge

big bridge tonbridge

2 miles – Town lock right. Sluice gate. Canoe pass. Weir. Millstream leaves left

town lock tonbridge   twon lock2    town lock sluice

town lock canoe shoot    downstream from tonbridge lock

2.5 miles – Cannon Lane bridge. Access left below bridge.

cannonbridge2

2.8 miles – Botany stream rejoins right

3 miles – Gravel conveyor bridge

gravel pit conveyer belt   medway nr eldridge lock

3.5 miles Eldridge’s lock left. Sluice. Canoe shoot right. In two sections.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    eldridges lock2   DCIM100SPORT

4.5 miles – Porters lock. Sluice gates right.  Canoe shoot.  Channel leading to lock left

DCIM100SPORT    porters lock canoe shoot   porters lock

Landing stages

5 miles – Hartlake bridge.

hartlake bridge  hartlake bridge2

Memorial to 30 hop pickers who drowned here 1853 when an earlier bridge collapsed in flood. Access below bridge.

hartlake memorial1   hartlake memorial2

5.25 miles – footbridge

6 miles – East lock right.

east lock   east lock2   east lock downstream

Canoe shoot middle.

east lock canoe shoot    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sluice gates left.

east lock sluice gate

6.25 miles – Ford Green footbridge

Ford_Green_Bridge_Medway   ford green bridge2

7 miles – Oak weir lock Right

oak weir lock4    oak weir lock2

Canoe pass middle

oak weir canoe shoot

Sluice left

oak weir sluice

Camping allowed on the island.  No facilities.

7.25 miles – Stilstead bridge

stilstead bridge

7.75 miles – River Bourne joins left.  Footbridge.

footbridge below r bourne junction     river bourne

Hop Farm Family Park right. Many attractions. If that sort of thing floats your boat, pass under the footbridge right to reach the campsite. If not, wild camping at Stoneham lock is only two miles away

8.5 miles – Sluice weir lock left.  Sluice gates and weir middle. Canoe shoot and fish ladder right.

sluice weir and sluice gates   sluice weir   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Click here for a video clip of shooting the canoe pass

9 miles – Branbridges.  Road bridge

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbranbridge road bridge2

9.25 miles – A228 bridge

a228 bridge

9.3 miles – conveyor belt bridge

conveyor belt bridge

9.5 miles – Railway bridge

railway bridge below sluice l b   railway bridge below sluice l

10 miles – Stoneham old lock (disused).  Camping. No facilities.

stoneham old lock2

10.75 miles  - Yalding.  Sluice and weir right.  Take lock cut left.

yalding sluice gates   twyford bridge2

Alternatively land right upstream of the booms, portage over the bank to river Teise, under Twyford bridge and down to Marlin canoe club campsite (booking needed).

Footbridge over lock cut (Hampstead lane canal).  Anchor inn left

11.5 miles –  Hampstead bridge and Hampstead lock

hampstead lock yalding4   hampstead lock yalding   hampstead lock and bridge yalding

Hampstead marina right below the lock

11.75 miles – rejoin main channel

13.5 miles – Bow bridge. Wateringbury

bow bridge wateringbury   bow bridge

DSCN3971      DSCN3969

15 miles – Teston lock. Weir right.  Canoe shoot left.  Beware – in two section.

DSCN3966    DSCN3967   DSCN3976

15.1 miles – Teston bridge. Reader’s cricket balls were made in Teston for 200 years

Teston_Bridge   readers cricket balls   ReadersACountyMatch1

Teston bridge county park left. Access and parking.

16 miles – Barming bridge.  Site of old ford. Camping is allowed on the right bank just before the bridge

Barming bridge    barming bridge2

17 miles – East Farleigh bridge

east farleigh bridge   east farleigh bridge2

Farleigh lock. No canoe shoot. But easy portage.

farlegh lock and weir   farleigh lock2   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

18.5 miles – Tovil footbridge.  Access right below.

tovil footbridge

19 miles – Millennium footbridge. The upstream one.

maidstone millenium footbridge   maidstone millenium footbridge2

19.5 miles – Maidstone bridge

maidstone bridge    maidstone bridge2

19.6 miles Maidstone New bridge

maidstone new bridge    maidstone new bridge2

20 miles – Rail bridge

maidstone railway bridge   maidstone railway bridge2

20.5 miles – Maidstone millenium footbridge. The second millenium bridge in Maidstone.

maidstone millenium 2nd footbridge    maidstone millenium 2nd footbridgeb   maidstone millenium 2nd footbridgec

22 miles – Allington lock (tidal limit).  Malt Inn right.  Slipway left.

allington lock2   allington weir and sluices  allington_slipway

Jim Thornton

 

Rühle cemetery

July 19, 2014

Overlooking the river Weser

This beautiful little cemetery, between the road and the river, enhanced my evening walk.

Ruhle cem2  Ruhle cem   Ruhle cem4

The expensively carved marble gravestones tell the story of Germany’s prosperous and stable recent past. Post war couples reach a good age, the man dies, and after a longish widowhood his wife goes too. No children have joined them yet.

gravestone1  gravestone2   gravestone3

gravestone5  gravestone6  gravestone7

gravestone8  gravestone9  gravestone10

Only one child grave, and only a couple of husbands outliving their wives.

gravestone baby    gravestone he outlived her  gravestone11

Jim Thornton May 2014

 

love is the every only god

July 12, 2014

By E. E. Cummings

As Cummings wrote:

“The poems are for you and me and are not for mostpeople – its no use trying to pretend that mostpeople and ourselves are alike. Mostpeople have less in common with ourselves than the squarerootofminusone. [...] If mostpeople were to be born twice they’d improbably call it dying.”

This one is from 50 Poems published in 1940. Read it out loud.

love is the every only god

who spoke this earth so glad and big
even a thing all small and sad
man,may his mighty briefness dig

for love beginning means return
seas who could sing so deep and strong

one querying wave will whitely yearn
from each last shore and home come young

so truly perfectly the skies
by merciful love whispered were,
completes its brightness with your eyes

any illimitable star

Another penile amputation

July 3, 2014

After newborn circumcision

This has just appeared (June 2014) in Urology (click here).  Full text (Penile amputation) for those with access problems.  Warning – graphic pictures.

A poor boy in Pittsburg, USA, had his penis accidently amputated during circumcision with a Mogen clamp.  He was lucky to get to a centre where microvascular surgery was possible, the penis was reattached, and after a worrying time for all concerned, it appears to have survived.  Time will tell how it functions later.

But look how hard the authors had to work to make the case sufficiently original to justify publication. Amputation itself won’t do, nor  reimplantion, not even microvascular surgical reimplantation. All are too common;  only last year some Canadian urologists described a series of five amputations with two reimplantations (click here). The present case was apparently only worth publishing because it was the first time someone had reported using leeches to reduce the postoperative oedema.

It’s pretty obvious that even in developed countries these catastrophic complications are under reported (click here).  One dreads to think what is going on in mass neonatal circumcision campaigns in Africa.

Jim Thornton

People seeds

June 23, 2014

A defense of abortion by Judith Jarvis Thomson

In retelling the famous violinist story (click here) I forgot the second part of Judith Jarvis Thomson’s thought experiment – the move from justifying abortion after rape, to justifying it after failed contraception.

No-one would claim that a burglar had a right to stay in your house just because you opened a window to let in some air and he climbed in. Nor would be OK if an innocent person blundered in. Thomson asks us to imagine a world like this;

“People-seeds drift about in the air like pollen, and if you open your windows, one may drift in and take root in your carpets and upholstery.  You don’t want children, so you fix up your windows with fine mesh screens, the very best you can buy.  As can happen, however, and on very, very rare occasions does happen, one of the screens is defective and a seed drifts in and takes root. Does the person-plant who now develops have a right to the use of your house? Surely not – despite the fact that you voluntarily opened your windows, you knowingly kept carpets and upholstered furniture, and you knew that screens were sometimes defective.”

Good eh? Here’s the article.   judith jarvis Thomson a defense of abortion

Jim Thornton

 

 

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